Friday, May 14, 2021

RIP Lloyd Price

Lloyd Price, Singer And Early Rock Influence, Dies At 88 

Thursday, May 13, 2021

recommended gigs

 Friday 5-14-21 - the Rhyolite Sound at Soul Belly BBQ

Saturday 5-15-21 - the Dead Dolls at the Rusty Spur

Sunday 5-16-21 - The Delta Bombers, Dead at Midnite, Twilight Atomics at the Gravy Train Saloon

Sunday 5-16-21 - Slim Cessna Facebook Live 12:00 Pacific Time

Friday May 21 - Fuck Face at the Double Down

Saturday 5-22-21 - Shanda and the Howlers and the Holy Smokes at the Double Down

Friday 6-4-21 - Thee Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki

Saturday 6-5-21 - The New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Sunday 6-6-21 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Monday 6-7-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Monday 6-14-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Saturday 6-19-21 - Soldiers of Destruction, Talking Bombs, Tasty Nuggz at the Double Down

Monday 6-21-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Monday 6-28-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Monday 7-5-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Monday 7-12-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Monday 7-19-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Monday 7-26-21 - Thee Swank Bastards at the Golden Tiki

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Let the Good Times Roll - Kenney Jones

 As the subtitle reminds us, Kenney was, of course, the master drummer in the Small Faces, the Faces and, for a time, in the Who. He also has done session work galore over the decades and is one of the legends of the day that is still with us. He also seems to be an intelligent and personable ex-Mod, with plenty of stories to tell, although for an American, some of his British-isms can be difficult to decipher!

Having fallen for music early on, Kenney initially had hoped to buy a banjo to play in a skiffle group but when the one he had his eye on was no longer available, a friend let him play his drums to cheer him up. Immediately hooked, he bought a set on hire without his parents knowledge - until they were delivered, of course - but he was so enthralled that they couldn't say no to him. Of course, it paid off as he had a hit song with the Small Faces by the time he was 16!

Innumerable adventures ensue, of course, and, as I've said countless times, it is always super exciting to read about bands' rise to fame in the 60's, with crazy travel schedules, screaming females, TV appearances and experimental recordings. What a time to be alive and in a highly successful rock'n'roll combo! By the time the Small Faces became the Faces, though, the stories devolve into crazed r'n'r hotel antics, mostly. Goofy fun, but not as entertaining and captivating as the early years for me, as we've heard many of these or similar stories at the time.

After dissolving the Faces, there was an ill-fated Small Faces reunion (which Ronnie Lane refused to be a part of) and then, just as Kenney was hoping for a change in a laid-back country-rock band, he was asked to join the Who and "who" could refuse that! I didn't remember all of the details of this time, and Kenney's point of view is interesting, on everything from Roger's hesitations to the tragedy in Cleveland and all sorts of other events.

Of course, all things come to an end and the post-Who section is somewhat standard old-rocker fare - trying to get back old royalties'n'rights, playing now'n'again, health issues galore, deaths'n'births, etc. Certainly, part of the story and it needs to be told, but not overly engaging, to be frank.

But, fun stuff, overall, despite my nit-picks. Kenney seems pretty likeable, in general, and as the last remaining member of the Small Faces, I wish him many more years on this planet of ours!

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Who Sell Out Box Set

 I'm sure that everyone who would be interested in this box set probably knows all about it already, but we just received it and it is a terrific package! Five CD's, a couple of 7" picture sleeve 45's, assorted memorabilia, and a 12" hard cover book packed with photos and info make it pretty damn impressive. 

The 5 CD's include mono and stereo versions of the albums, both packed with tons of extra tracks, along with CD 3's outtakes and early versions, CD 4 being "The Road to Tommy" with 68 recordings and A's and B's - and the 5th containing Townshend's personal demos - something that I always dig hearing and apparently these were previously unreleased - this is a real highlight of the set.

There's a lot of duplicate material, of course, and probably a majority of the songs (not necessarily the mixes or versions) have appeared on one Who compilation or another, but there are a variety of different mixes, including single mixes, outtakes, studio chatter, a number of commercials that I never heard before and lots more that appear here for the first time. 

Obviously, this is for Who fanatics, but fans will certainly want this and while it ain't cheap, it's actually pretty damn reasonable for what you get. If you think you want it, then you definitely want it!

Friday, May 07, 2021

Bob Dunn - Steel Guitar Classics

 Every so often I come across something new'n'different to me and I put it in a wish list and when I find a good deal on it, I'll buy it even when I don't remember how or why I came across it in the first place. This is another example of that! I have become a sucker for well played steel guitar over the last few years and this CD has been in my list for a while and I just got it. According to Wikipedia, Dunn was "a pioneer Western swing steel guitarist" and he was one of the first to record an electrically amplified instrument!

This 24 song compilation does not focus solely on Dunn, but showcases his work with a number of projects where his steel guitar adds a fine flavor to the proceedings. I would say that "Western Swing" pretty much encapsulates the style here in general, but there are some tunes that are more bluesy ("St. Louis Blues" being an obvious one), some are more Tin Pan Alley-ish, some are jumpin'n'jivin', some are ballad-y but they all share his distinctive style. He doesn't always get a chance to show off - his playing fits the mood of the song - but when he does, he is mighty impressive!

A number of the tunes remind me of songs (especially ones like "Mary Jane") that R.Crumb's band would do (in fact, I'm certain that Crumb has done some of these) - whatever style you want to call that - so fans of his band, as well as fans of early country and Western swing in general will most likely dig this. I found it at a discounted price and it's a fun one!

NItty Gritty Dirt Band - Will the Circle Be Unbroken

 The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is, naturally, most well known for their major hit song, "Mr. Bojangles", which gave them the credence with the record company to produce this special three-LP set. What started as a collaboration with the famous banjo player Earl Scruggs ended up (with Earl's help) including a monumental list of stars of early Americana, Country and Bluegrass, who had mostly fallen out of favor by the early 70's when this was initially released. With a roll call that included Roy Acuff, Mother Mabelle Carter, Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, Randy Scruggs, Merle Travis, Pete Kirby, Norman Blake, Jimmy Martin, Vassar Clements and others, this is an incredible achievement by a bunch of West Coast hippies who had to win the favor of some of the classic artists, some of whom were a bit hesitant of this experiment.

To say that the experiment was a success would be an understatement, though! The NGDB were extremely respectful and faithful to the original artists and arrangements and even the signature sounds from back in the day. They recorded live for 6 days, with the musicians generally sitting around in a circle, capturing the sound and style of the original recordings, although with better equipment, of course!

While the instrumentation is quite similar to the originals, there are often more harmony vocalists, adding a fuller and, frankly, sometimes better sound to the songs. There are some extra instrumental breaks, as well, since there are sometimes more players than the artists had initially. But, anyone who enjoyed the music of these older artists will certainly dig these recordings, as well. The songs still ring true, without any attempt to "modernize" them.

The NGDB did a great, reverential job here and I'm certain that they helped to bring these artists to a wider and younger audience. I love this stuff myself and am glad I finally picked up this set!

Thursday, May 06, 2021

recommended gigs

 Saturday 5-8-21 Thee Hypnotiques at the Usual Place

Saturday 5-8-21 - Suburban Resistance, Crimson Riot at the Double Down

Friday 5-14-21 - the Rhyolite Sound at Soul Belly BBQ

Sunday 5-16-21 - The Delta Bombers, Dead at Midnite, Twilight Atomics at the Gravy Train Saloon

Sunday 5-16-21 - Slim Cessna Facebook Live 12:00 Pacific Time

Saturday 5-22-21 - Shanda and the Howlers and the Holy Smokes at the Double Down

Friday 6-4-21 - Thee Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki

Saturday 6-5-21 - The New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Sunday 6-6-21 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Saturday 6-19-21 - Soldiers of Destruction, Talking Bombs, Tasty Nuggz at the Double Down

The Hi End - Class Kicks

 The Hi End is High Class, 70's-styled, chugglin' rock'n'roll with plenty of power'n'energy and nods to a lot of the stars of that decade, with more than a passing reference to the highly underrated Brownsville Station, of all bands! Of course, there are plenty of other influences, not the least being pre/proto punk bands like the Dictators, especially Ross the Boss' guitar wailin' (they even steal a line from the Dics in "Blood Red Lips", where Curt does his best Ross-isms). There's cool'n'sassy call'n'answer chantin' in the opening "Lookin' For Some Kicks", plenty of swagger and soulful/"Gimme Shelter"-ish female backing vocals in "Nervous Breakdown", hep 70's rock with fret-flyin' guitar licks in "Perfect Company", "It's a Long Way Down" is kinda a Rose Tatoo-like cross between Gary Glitter and "Tobacco Road", maybe a bit of Brownsville Station bluster in "Get in Touch" and they kinda throw everything but the kitchen sink (I lost count of the influences lingering in this one!) in the high-energy "Identity Riot".

Chunky power chords dominate the heavy "Feel My Need", while "One Day At a Time" is practically the Runaways doing power pop, followed by the smokin' "Blood Red Lips", where I really hear some Cub Koda vocal influences, "The Way She Moves Me" is surprisingly melodic (vocals and guitar) for another struttin' rocker, they get a bit moodier, although no less rockin', in "To Be Alive" and conclude the r'n'r festivities with 70's punk-like "A Way of Life".

If you dig high-energy, well-played, 70's rock'n'roll with hot-shot guitars interspersed with a wild ride of a rhythm section and sassy vocalizings, this is the place to be! We need more pure rock'n'roll in the world today!

Richard Lloyd - Everything is Combustible

 Richard Lloyd is, of course, best known for his guitar work in the groundbreaking band, Television, which brought the new wave of punk bands to CBGB's (the stage of which was literally partially built by Lloyd) and beyond. Lloyd went on to plenty of other work and plenty of other addictions'n'incarcerations and seems to be a somewhat unhinged or at least unearthly individual.

While he begins the book by saying how bored he gets with other autobiographies (this, he says, is a memoir, the difference being that these are his memories of events that he is not attempting to validate in any way) by their history lessons, so he gives a brief overview of his parents and then begins talking about his early life. He claims to have memories of highly intellectual'n'esoteric thoughts when he was as young as one, with a certainty that he had been somewhere before this earthly life, and claimed that he could leave his body, control his breathing and perform other rather extraordinary feats that he would stop only when he would fear that he could not control them any longer.

The story is not very linear, for instance he jumps from being a small child trying his first cigarette with a friend to junior high/high school, where he has already tried a number of drugs including heroin without any background into these experiments. His mind obviously bounces around continuously, from reminiscing about making explosives (he still has scars) to playing drums, then guitar, to drugs to sex and to his innumerable other interests.

As a teen he finagled his way into plenty of music shows and saw'n'met innumerable legends, including Buddy Guy and Jimi Hendrix, as you could in the 60's and the 70's! He drifts around the country, returns to NYC and simply by happenstance, comes across Terry Ork, Richard Hell and Tom Verlaine and changes the course of history! Besides music, he is an accomplished alcoholic and drug abuser by this time and makes plenty of excuses for this behavior.

What always amazes me about the early punk bands is that, although they were a rebellion against the excesses of the early 70's rock scene, the record companies were still in that mind-set and practically threw money at the groups that they signed - plenty of tour support, travel expenses, recording budgets and so much more that most bands can't even conceive of these days. Television did well initially, but I'm sure that Elektra did not recoup its investment, and the group broke up shortly after its second album.

Lloyd certainly had more opportunities than any one person should be allotted, and he cheated death numerous times, did more drugs and took more chances, was flown around the world to record and perform, received album offers, toured with up'n'coming and happening artists and much more. As I mentioned, he has non-musical interests that he recounts, as well, and he goes into detail about many different subjects as his mind wanders throughout the book.

Certainly a captivating read of a fascinatingly bizarre'n'talented individual. Sometimes I wonder if stories of abuse and near-death (multiple times) like this one serves as a warning or makes others want to emulate the lifestyle since he still survived only on rock'n'roll. I guess that is for the reader to decide!

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Curt Florczak - Scraping By on the Hope of Redemption

 OK, Curt and I have been pals ever since I first discovered his LA punk'n'roll band, the B-Movie Rats, back in the 90's and I have always dug his incredible guitar playing and rock'n'roll sensibilities. He is now based in the Boston area and has been part of that scene for years in several different line ups and with the COVID-enforced downtime, he has recorded'n'released his own personal little blast of rock'n'roll.

This 5-song CD/EP opens up with a burst of Real Kids/Dirty Angels-styled power pop (with an emphasis on power) with ringing/roaring guitars, hooks galore and harmonies a-plenty in "Dead Letter Box". From there we move dramatically to dark'n'gloomy riffs'n'heaviness in "Blood Gumbo" that retains some metallic melody while providing a raucous bottom end and a sweet slide solo. "Take Me to Lost Cities" almost sounds like the Stooges if they cleaned up their act and concentrated on the melodies - I guess kinda like the album Kill City, if I think about it! But, Curt keeps his uniqueness intact and adds a neat break, some more terrific harmonies and a rockin' ending. There's a bit of Wilko Johnson in the R'n'B-ish "Worry Stone" that, of course, can't remain too traditional so he throws in a sorta Tom Verlaine-like solo in it along with a few extra catchy bits before the moody, powerful ballad, "Watch the Worlds Collide", that's maybe kinda Black Crows-ish, for the closer, showing Curt versatility and songwriting talents.

While Curt is one of the best guitarists around, here he doesn't really show off, he just gives the songs just what they need - Chuck Berry riffs, Keith Richards chunky rhythms, punk rock licks, R'n'B-isms, great dynamics and plenty or pure-ass rock'n'roll! The sound is pretty damn terrific throughout, as well - great production, exceptional songwriting (nice way with words as well as rockin' music), terrific singing and, of course, superb git-slinging. Special kudos go to drummers Jared Seakbrook and Darron Burke (who also recorded and mixed the tracks) for backing the man, who did everything else on the record, and to Mike Mariconda for mastering the project.

Anyone who knows this rocker expects nothing less than true coolness from his ventures and this certainly does not disappoint! The only complaint is that it's way too short!

recommended gigs

 Thursday 4-29-21 Monk and the Po Boys at Saddle'n'Spurs

Friday 4-30-21 - Lean 13, Soldiers of Destruction, Suburban Resistance and Blvd Bullies at the Dive Bar

Saturday 5-8-21 Thee Hypnotiques at the Usual Place

Friday 5-14-21 - the Rhyolite Sound at Soul Belly BBQ

Sunday 5-16-21 - The Delta Bombers, Dead at Midnite, Twilight Atomics at the Gravy Train Saloon

Saturday 5-22-21 - Shanda and the Howlers and the Holy Smokes at the Double Down

Friday 6-4-21 - Thee Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki

Saturday 6-5-21 - The New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Sunday 6-6-21 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

The Grande Ballroom - Leo Early

 The Grande Ballroom is, of course, the Detroit showroom made famous by the MC5 recording their live debut, Kick Out the Jams, on its stage, as well as hosting innumerable touring acts throughout the 60's and 70's. But this book does not simply concentrate on the Ballroom's rock'n'roll heyday, it explores the building's inception through its many incarnations - theater, ballroom, skating rink, dance hall, doo-wop haven, etc. - until it became the concert venue that it is now known for.

The beginning of the book details the men behind the evolving businesses - at times with a bit more detail than I felt was necessary, but I suppose that is the author's prerogative, although it sometimes feels like he is trying to pad out the book a bit. But the story gets going with the introduction of John and Leni Sinclair and the MC5, who became the Grande Ballroom's first house band in the room's mid-60's incarnation.

As the book continues, Early introduces the people behind the scenes - employees of the Grande along with promoters and other assorted characters - as well as the local acts that played there, and lists some of the major acts that performed. As with just about everything, the ballroom's heyday faded, concerts moved elsewhere, promoters concentrated on larger concerts and the Grande stopped its regular gigs. It was rented out now'n'again for a while then went through a number of owners, oddly, most of them being church-related. As of the end of the book - and I believe it still is - the building is in disrepair and the current owners do not seem to care much for its heritage or historical status (something that the author has tried to initiate).

The Grande is a fabled hall and innumerable famous acts rocked its stage (a full list of performers is included) and its tale needed to be told. The book is relatively brief - barely over 200 pages - but it is fun and informative. I'm glad that people still care for this piece of history!

Thursday, April 22, 2021

RIP Les McKnown

Former Bay City Rollers frontman Les McKeown dies aged 65 
Hey, their hits were pretty darn cool coming out of 70's AM radio! 

recommended gigs

 Saturday 4-24-21 - Rockin' Bettie/Glam Factory party/car show - 3:00pm 1302 S. 3rd St with Delta Bombers, Tiki Bandits and lots more!

Monday 4-26-21 - Goldtop Bob at the Founders Club 

Wednesday 4-28-21 - the Smoke Stacks at the Sand Dollar

Thursday 4-29-21 Monk and the Po Boys at Saddle'n'Spurs

Saturday 5-8-21 Thee Hypnotiques at the Usual Place

Friday 6-4-21 - Thee Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki

Saturday 6-5-21 - The New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Sunday 6-6-21 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

RIP Tempest Storm

Tempest Storm, legendary burlesque star, dies at 93 

RIP Frank Jacobs of Mad Magazine

Frank Jacobs, Mad Magazine Writer With a Lyrical Touch, Dies at 91 

RIP Paul Oscher

Paul Oscher, Austin blues musician who played in Muddy Waters' band, dies at 71 
He started playing with Muddy Waters in 1967 - a young, white cat playing with the master. Sad to hear of his passing all-too-young.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

RIP Mike Mitchell - he influenced several generations

Mike Mitchell, a founding member of the band that recorded 'Louie Louie,' has died 

Thursday, April 15, 2021

recommended gigs

Monday 4-19-21 - Goldtop Bob at the Founders Club 

Saturday 4-24-21 - Rockin' Bettie/Glam Factory party/car show - 3:00pm 1302 S. 3rd St with Delta Bombers, Tiki Bandits and lots more!

Monday 4-26-21 - Goldtop Bob at the Founders Club 

Friday 6-4-21 - Thee Hypnotiques at the Golden Tiki

Saturday 6-5-21 - The New Waves at the Golden Tiki

Sunday 6-6-21 - Shanda and the Howlers at the Golden Tiki

Monday, April 12, 2021

Ugly Things #56


C'mon, it's Ugly Things - you know that Mike and Anja are not gonna steer you wrong and you know that I'm gonna tell you to get this, right? Among the innumerable reviews - get your wish list ready, there will be plenty to add to it - the cover stories include an interview with the author of a new book about the hip 60's Brit TV show, Ready Steady Go!, Jonathan Richman talking about the Velvet Underground and their gear, and Mike Stax on Gabor Szabo. Besides all that, there's part two of the fab interview with Bun E Carlos, lots more underground garage groups, the Pretty Things, Cyril Jordan and on'n'on'n'on! 

Always a good time, always informative, always essential! Get it!

The Electric Ferrets - The Electric Ferrets Psychedelic Punk Rock Band

 The Electric Ferrets started out in the 90's LA underground scene as a wild'n'wacky punk rock'n'roll band that had a penchant for pop culture, 60's garage, 70's rock and whatever else caught their eyes'n'ears. Led by vocalist Greg Wallace and guitarist Flying Ike (along with current Las Vegas resident Kevin Ball on second guitar), they gigged'n'recorded for a number of years until real life interfered and the group dissolved. They reformed a little while back and cut this 2-LP epic that the always hip Get Hip Records has now released in all its glory.

While the guys continue to mine pop culture (particularly 50's and 60's) and garage rock'n'roll, on this release they also delve heavily into psychedelia and loosely parody Sgt. Peppers (in their music and album cover), among innumerable other concepts. The opening title cut is obviously based on Sgt. Peppers, but with enough originality to make it weirdly different, especially the autobiographical lyrics and the truly psychedelic extended ending. "Psychedelic Biplane" is pretty damn trippy, as well, in a far-out, late-60's rockin' kinda way, then "Turn On" is frantically punk-oriented as is "Vice Grip", but both have extra elements as well to keep them from being cliches. "In the Forest of the Green" they get downright spaghetti-western-y in a dramatic, mellower way with a sweet, fuzzed-out guitar solo and for "Martin Grimm" the sound is very late-60's in a kinda/sorta post-mod manner, with a wacky haunted-house middle break. 

And, all that is just from side one of this double album set! From there we get a sci-fi soundtrack in need of a film in "Attack of the Giant Lobsters From the Deep" (dig the guitar solo on this one!), a mid-tempo garage rocker with "I Want to Be Like Jill", they're downright funky in "The Struggle is Real" (although it turns into punk rock'n'back again), then almost hard core for "Open Your Mind", wildly veering into early 70's mellow/keyboard/semi-schmaltz that becomes a bit psychotic for "Is There Another Day", more pop culture garage in "The Incredible Shrinking Man", and a bit of piano-pop-psych for "Breakfast in Bed". 

Frantically ripping off the Blues Brothers intro ("I Can't Turn You Loose"), side three starts with "L.A. Song" which ends up parodying other soul hits, as well, while "Together For Eternity" is kinda mellow 60's-pop, there's a quick bit of punk rock in "Chuckleland", while "Nadia" sounds like 70's AM radio fare and then they blast thru the garage classic "Voices Green and Purple" although, bizarrely, mixing in Kiss' "Detroit Rock City"! Somehow, it works, although damned if I know how! It delves into a lengthy, tripped out instro section before the big 70's rock finish!

More trippiness in "I See Colors" (complete with sitar!), echo-drenched/tremelo'd guitars dominate "The Sun Is Coming Out Today" (slightly reminiscent of a more druggy "Sun Arise"), back to the punk rock for the retro fantasy "Rock and Roll Dreams From the Seventies", followed by a country-ish power ballad tribute to their guitarist, "A Day in the Ike", then a reprise of the title track, which does not end the album, but the finale is the hard rockin'/surfy epic "Ride the Wave".

As I said, the Ferrets always appreciated 60's pop culture and rock'n'roll, but here they truly do blend psychedelic trippiness and punk rock - among other things - in a wackily original way. Not for purists of either (or any!) form, but for the adventurous, this is a fun-filled odyssey. Good luck trying to guess how many pop references are made in the fold-out cover art, as well!

Will You Miss Me When I'm Gone - Mark Zwonitzer and Charles Hirshberg

 Of course, I've known the music that the Carter Family popularized essentially my entire life between singing these songs in school or hearing them covered by more modern musicians or experiencing them on TV and radio. But, I've never known anything about them other than what CD liner notes would reveal. I'm not sure how I happened upon this biography, but I found it at a good price and figured I'd learn a bit more about country music's first family.

I often tend to get lost in the family histories, especially in old-time families with innumerable children, cousins, aunts, uncles, husbands, wives and every permutation in between. But once the characters all meet, marry, and/or start making music together, the story does move fairly quickly. AP Carter was never one for "regular" work, so making a living with music was certainly enticing and once he married the talented vocalist and autoharpist Sara, who then began harmonizing with her sister-in-law Maybelle, who filled out the sound with her distinctive guitar playing, everything jelled and they began to make a name for themselves. Once they heard about a recording opportunity they hit the road, made a record and success struck quickly.

Of course, life happens (as it does) and their fortunes ebbed and flowed (especially during the Great Depression), their recording contracts varied, and even AP and Sara's marriage failed, but through it all, they continued, as it was their best source of income. Eventually, Sara left the fold to re-marry and AP quit, as well, but Maybelle continued on with her girls and, at one point, adding a young Chet Atkins to the act! Different gatherings of the family continue to perform to this day and many have made a name for themselves, but this tale mainly follows the original members progressions.

Informative and fun and lots to learn about this  batch of talented Southerners. Enjoyable!

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Johnny Jenkins - Ton-Ton Macoute!

 I first heard Jenkins on Duane Allman's fab Anthology album where Duane's varied session work is displayed in full force. In fact, this record began as a Duane solo album before he got involved in the Allman Brothers Band, and Duane and other members appear here making this, Jenkins first solo album, almost an ABB/Jenkins hybrid - which certainly is not a bad thing!

By 1070, when Ton-Ton Macoute was recorded, Jenkins had already had a storied vocation, including launching Otis Redding's own career and influencing Jimi Hendrix! More recently, Beck sampled bits of Jenkins' version of Dr. John's "I Walk on Gilded Splinters", so Johnny continues to make his mark even in the modern world!

While known primarily as a blues guitarist and harmonica player, here Jenkins lives the blues but he also rocks'n'rolls, swings a bit and is soulful as can be. He opens with "Gilded Splinters" where ABB members Butch Trucks (drums) and Jaimoe (timbales) create a funky, movin' groove - much more upbeat than Dr. John's wonderfully mesmerizing original - that still captures the sweaty Louisiana feel, but with a bit more crunch. From there, Sleepy John Estes' "Leaving Truck" is a cool, slide-riffin' funk groover and "Blind Bats and Swamp Rats" sounds kinda like if Cream was from New Orleans instead of England! The version of Muddy Waters' "Rollin' Stone" was one of the highlights of the Anthology LP, which features Jenkins on acoustic guitar and foot stompin' (ala John Lee Hooker), Allman on acoustic slide and ABB bassist Berry Oakley keeping the backbeat, cutting a take damn near as swampy as Muddy himself! 

"Sick and Tired" is another nice slice of funkiness, while Bob Dylan's "Down Along the Cove" was yet another highlight of Duane's comp - a hip rocker with Jenkins providing down-home harp and Duane bringing his distinctive'n'excellent slide, "Bad News" is a little less happening, but still swings, John Lee Hooker's "Dimples" is a more upbeat, fun rocker, and the original album's finale, "Voodoo In You" is another head-bobbin', swampy groover. The bonus tracks include the great blues, "I Don't Want No Woman" (I know this from Magic Sam's fine take), in which Jenkins gets to let loose and show off his superior guitar skills, which extend into their take on Otis Rush's minor-key masterpiece "My Love Will Never Die", making for an even better closer than "Voodoo...".

What this all ends up creating is an album full of blues-based, funky, rock'n'soul that is a real keeper! Dig it!

Thursday, April 01, 2021

recommended gigs

 Friday 4-2-21 - Soldiers of Destruction, Horripilation, Talking Bombs at the Dive Bar

Sat 4-3-21 - Fuck Face LV with the Fun Killers at the Double Down

Friday 4-9-21 - Thee Swank Bastards and Stagnetti's Cock at the Double Down

Saturday 4-24-21 - Rockin' Bettie/Glam Factory party/car show - 3:00pm 1302 S. 3rd St with Delta Bombers, Tiki Bandits and lots more!

Monday, March 29, 2021

Brother Robert - Annye C. Anderson with Preston Lauterbach

 As with most rock'n'rollers, I have been fascinated with Robert Johnson ever since first discovering him via the covers by rock giants the Rolling Stones and Cream, among hundreds (thousands?) of others. Once I heard his haunting original work and learned a little of his story - including, of course, him selling his soul to the devil in exchange for his guitar prowess - I became a lifelong fan. Naturally, there has never been much known about the man, other than what we have learned through those that he worked with, mostly, including other legends such as Son House, Willie Brown, Robert Lockwood Jr., along with a few more. So, once I heard about this book written by his half-sister, I naturally needed to own it!

Even the opening introduction by Elijah Wald is pretty compelling, as he was able to meet and talk with Anderson, then a spry 93 year old who talked of their engaging family along with her innumerable interests and the world that her tale will open up for us. Reminding us that we mostly know of Johnson due to his recordings that account for less than a couple of hours of his life, this book informs that his recordings are - logically - just the tip of the iceberg of the man.

Anderson worked with Preston Lauterbach (I just realized that I have read another of his books, which helped him get the job for this one), who interviewed her and wrote out the transcriptions for her approval. Preston talks of their first meeting where she pulled out family files and finally shows him the photo that appears on the cover. She is smart'n'savy enough to understand marketing and says "if you put this on the cover of your book, it will help sales tremendously"!

The story is fascinating'n'convoluted right from the start, in which Annye's father, who was married to Robert's mother, was chased out of town by a lynch mob, leaving behind his wife and kids, he got married again, spawning two more children, that wife died and he married Annye's mother. Robert's mother in the meantime got together with Robert's father (who we never learn anything about), so without the lynch mob, neither Robert nor Annye (and a number of other children) would ever have been born!

Of course, a good portion of the story takes place before any real fame for Robert and Annye emphasizes the fact that Robert's repertoire was extremely varied - something that he had in common with many "bluesmen" - it was really the record producers who picked the songs that they recorded. Apparently, Robert was a huge country fan and would also play modern pop tunes along with pretty much anything else that came his way.

Since Annye was only 12 years old when Johnson died, she never saw him actually working at his profession, but he did, naturally, play around their houses (many of the siblings lived close to each other) and family parties and she conjectures on the sources of some of his lyrical ideas. She more remembers "Brother Robert" as the tall, lanky, good-looking young man whose favorite food was fried pumpkin and who took her to see Gene Autry movies and help her run errands.

After he died, the family suffered other deaths and moved away from each other and family relics were lost along the way and even Robert's guitar, given to a relative he had played with, ended up being pawned and was never seen again - who knows who unknowingly owns that guitar today!

Of course, his death was far from the end of his story. No one in the family was aware of his growing fame until Annye saw a story in the Ladies Home Journal, of all places, about some British musician covering Robert's songs. Of course, plenty of folks came out of the woodwork to try to make money off of the surviving family members and there were innumerable scams by people pretending to be Robert's heirs or even Robert himself! A man claimed to be his illegitimate son and actually won a court ruling in his favor as Johnson's heir, superseding that of Robert's sister Carrie and Annye. Annye is not convinced of the veracity of his claim and is, understandably, disappointed that Robert's blood relatives who knew the man do not get any rewards from his work.

This is a highly enjoyable work which really humanizes this mythical figure. Well worth reading!

68 - Give One Take One

 We almost literally stumbled upon the band called '68 when they opened for the Bronx several years ago out here in Vegas and were flabbergasted by their insane energy, batshit crazy live show and the amount of wild caterwauling that this duo was able to project. They were already sold out of all merch by that gig - justifiably - but we've made it a point to pick up whatever we can find by them and this one is their most recent release.

The first thing that jumped out at us on this CD was the SOUND - superb production and a mastering job that means that this is a LOUD record - just like their live shows! Their style is fairly indescribable - a mix of punk rock, modern metal, dreamy psyche/metal ala Boris, stripped down blues and noisy no-wave - sorta/kinda! They have played on metal festivals, which I would think would baffle that crowd, but they're pretty weird for punk rock/alt clubs, as well. They almost seem like something that we would not like at all, but we are huge fans and think that they are one of the best bands going today - at least partially due to their uniqueness.

The lyrics are strong'n'intriguing, as well. I've been told that the guys are religious and there are references to the Lord and prayer here'n'there, but nothing too overt and positively not preachy. It does kinda sound like this was a quarantine album, although that could simply be my interpretations of the words. There is a sense of humor here, as well, so they don't take themselves overly serious even as some of the sounds are truly macabre. The musicianship is pretty astounding also, especially Nikko's dynamic'n'creative drumming, but the commotion that Josh wrings out of his guitar are likewise fairly otherworldly.

I can't say that the songs are particularly catchy - there are not a lot of "hooks", per se - but they are incredibly powerful and I love this CD! Not for the weak of heart but see them when you can and definitely pick up their music - great stuff!

The Stooges - Live at Goose Lake

 Despite the Stooges being one of my all-time favorite bands and Funhouse being in my all-time Top 5 records, I was a bit hesitant about buying this live CD due to the fact that their live gigs were - by intent - a bit chaotic and anarchistic, which meant for a terrific live experience, but not necessarily a great listening experience. Of course, some live recordings have been poor quality, as well. And to top it off, once I did get this, I read the liner notes which are almost exclusively Iggy talking about how terrible bassist Dave Alexander was on this gig - Ig fired him immediately afterwards - and what a disaster the gig was! Yeesh! But, despite all of that, this is actually pretty darn listenable. Yes, Alexander is wonky, and some of the songs literally simply fall apart, but there is some great energy and wild sounds abound!

Their set is essentially the Funhouse album, with the opening "Loose" being fairly sloppy and Iggy singing some of the "hot dog" lyrics rather than the final, album words. Despite some chaos, they move directly into "Down on the Street" and plough through that more successfully with Rock pummeling his drums and the Igster ad-libbing some lewd lyrics, and after a quick tune-up they rave on "T.V. Eye" maniacally, then more tuning followed by the menacing "Dirt", where Ron is smokin' and Rock does his best to hold things together but Dave definitely meanders where he shouldn't, unfortunately. 

They bring up Steve Mackay on sax for the finals numbers, starting with a truly insanely frantic "1970" that works well up until the ending simply disintegrates, but then there's their tour-de-force, the album's title cut, with Iggy imploring the audience to "let me in"! Mackay really wails here, as he does on the record, although this is even more crazed, acid-drenched anarchy than any recording studio could possibly contain! This segues directly into the noise-fest "LA Blues" that ends the set. The liner notes claims that the power was shut off, but it sounds to me just like they kinda fade out the jam and they even get a rousing cheer from the MC at the end.

So, yeah, it's an iffy proposition, but the sound quality is stellar even if the performance sometimes collapses on itself, and the energy is absolutely maniacal! As with anything like this, beginners should not start with this but fans will certainly want it!

We The People - Too Much Noise

 I was turned on to We The People way back in the early 80's when I was playing in the Unclaimed - we covered both the incendiary "You Burn Me Up and Down" and the wild "Mirror of Your Mind" at the time. It seems like I have heard this album at some point since some of the songs - all originals - do seems familiar - hell, I wonder if I have the vinyl somewhere - will have to look! The booklet included here contains some excellent period photos of the group as well as some informative liner notes by garage guru Jeff Jarema.

Opening with the wacky guitar slides and feedback, "You Burn Me Up and Down" is a fuzz monster with a simple, infectious riff, cool chorus and perfectly snotty vocals. A true classic! A chunky chugger, "My Brother, The Man" sounds like it has influenced everyone from the Jackets to the Heavy! "By the Rule" is a hip, soulful, R'n'B number with a nice call'n'answer, the afore-mentioned "Mirror of Your Mind" is another stomper with pounding, tribal drums that are almost off-beat, noisy harmonica/guitar breaks and another catchy chorus, "Declaration of Independence" - written solely to coincide with their band name - is actually a nice, catchy, blues-eyed soul number, "Free Information" is a bit of a goof, and "Too Much Noise" - written do to neighbor's complaints about their practices - is good, but not great, and I didn't know/didn't remember that the incredible "In The Past" wasn't a Chocolate Watchband original, although the Watchband did almost a note-for-note cover of WTP's amazing original.

"Half of Wednesday" (apparently previously unreleased) is stylistically similar to "In the Past" melodically and with similar raga-riffs, while "(You Are) The Color of Love" is a terrific and memorable ballad in the Love (the band) tradition that I swear I've heard others do, but I can't place it (maybe I've just heard this version before and don't remember), and there's hints of the Monkees and the Byrds (in my ears anyway) in the harmony-drenched "Beginning of the End", followed by another kinda-throwaway novelty number, "He Doesn't Go About It Right", they get spacey and psychedelic in the more successful oddity "Alfred, What Kind of Man Are You" and the proceedings conclude with another immensely familiar number, the psych ballad "St. John's Shop", which, per Jarema, was their biggest radio hit.

Amazing comp of an amazingly talented and ferociously wild but also terrifically versatile band! Any garage rocker needs this one!

Friday, March 26, 2021

Isabelle - The Life of Isabelle Eberhardt by Annette Kobak

 I was not familiar with Eberhardt until her name came up in Tav Falco's cover of "Old Fashioned Morphine" and that intrigued us enough to research the woman. We came across this biography before finding any of her own writings but we wanted to learn of her life, so we picked this up.

Isabelle's life was confusing and intriguing and complicated right from the start - born in Switzerland to the daughter of Russian aristocracy and her lover, a priest-turned-atheist anarchist, who was brought into the family as a tutor while Isabelle's mother was married to a Russian general. Just keeping her family ties straight is hard enough, but then she begins writing under a male pseudonym, started cross-dressing, moved to Algeria and began a long love affair with Africa where she adopted a male persona and name, converted to Islam, was accused of being a spy, survived an assassination attempt and numerous illnesses, was immersed in drugs'n'alcohol, married and eventually died in a random, unusual flash flood! 

There is an immense amount of political intrigue throughout and innumerable characters that she meets over her short 27 years on the planet, and while she was published during her lifetime, she became well known posthumously with the release of novel and diaries from a benefactor, Victor Barrucand, who she worked with towards the end of her life. 

While Kobak had access to previously unseen writings of Eberhardt's, and the story is pretty darn fascinating, the writing doesn't not truly flow and is not a compelling read, unfortunately. It is still worth reading for the information and there are plenty of quotes from Isabelle, but I would not say that this is a definitive story. I will be looking for more about and from this subject, though.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

recommended gigs

 Saturday Mar 27 - Cromm Fallon and the P200 pop up show - check online for details!

Wednesday Mar 31 - Celebration of life for Jeffrey Alexander at the Double Down 7:00 pm

Friday 4-2-21 - Soldiers of Destruction, Horripilation, Talking Bombs at the Dive Bar

Sat 4-3-21 - Fuck Face LV with the Fun Killers at the Double Down

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

The Jackets - Queen of the Pill


I've ranted'n'raved about the Swiss-based Jackets numerous times before, as they are assuredly my favorite modern day garage combo, bar none. With an incredible live show, front-woman Jackie is a uniquely expressive'n' charismatic singer and guitarist, with a fab, fuzzed-out, tremelo'd tone, backed by my old pal from the 80's LA garage scene, Chris on drums (I always have to mention that he started out with me in the Foot Foot Three!) and Mosrite-Master bassist Sam providing the perfectly powerful backing for the tunes. 

All of their songs are unmistakably garage-oriented, but with a sound unlike anyone else's and it's kinda hard to pinpoint the reasons for that. Of course, Jackie has her own style - both musically and vocally - but there's something in the songs themselves, the melodies, rhythms and progressions, which is all their own.

This album was produced by King Kahn (and mixed'n'mastered by Jim Diamond) and the sound is phenomenal - loud'n'full'n'powerful with excellent tones, all the while sounding just like the Jackets. Right from the start there is a masterful blast of fuzz for the opening "Dreamer" that evolves into a mid-tempo, tremelo'd garager with terrific backing'n'dynamics from Chris'n'Sam. Sam's rollickin' bassline and Chris' rapid-fire drums intro "What About You", a frantic rocker, while "Steam Queen" is a classic Jackets groover with hip, layered, varied guitars and extra vocals from Kahn, "Move On" is a call'n'answer raver with a cool breakdown, followed by another monster fuzzer, "Don't Leave Me Alone".

More Godzilla-sized fuzz leading off the title track which breaks down into some cool dynamics and rollin' bass lines and an extended psyched out ending. There's a bit of a Mid-Eastern feel (complete with gong by Kahn!) in "Floating Alice", "Losers Lullaby" is punk-rock-paced ala "Neat, Neat, Neat" (Jackie even sings "yeah, yeah, yeah" throughout!), "Deeper Way" is another way-out fuzzer with groovy Gregorian-chant-like backing vocals and the finale, "Be Myself", is a fantastic garage rocker that I thought was gonna be empowering but the tag line is "I don't wanna be myself"! (I can relate - I once wrote "she made me hope that someday I could be someone besides me"). 

If you're looking for modern garage rock'n'roll, this is the place to go! The Jackets are the best around these days and their live show can't be beat! Get it!